“I’m better than your brother. I’m a version of your brother you can trust when he says “Don’t run.” Nobody exists on purpose, nobody belongs anywhere, everybody’s gonna die. Come watch TV.”
—Rick Smith, Rick and Morty
If we are to glean anything meaningful from a groundbreaking investigation into the toileting habits of highly-educated millennials—and that is quite a lot to ask—it likely has nothing to do with toilets or tissues. True, it is interesting that women seemed to share and respond to this survey with much more vigor than their male counterparts, perhaps speaking to a very human tendency to derive joy from sharing secrets in a society that arguably criticizes women more than men for discussing matters of personal hygiene. And, no doubt, it is interesting that something as basic as the orientation of a toilet seat cover can clearly divide respondents across rather arbitrary lines. Despite the fact that we are literally flushing millions of dollars down the drain, this tongue-in-cheek survey wasn’t designed with any real hope that we might better preserve the beautiful celestial rock that we share, though I’d be both thrilled and amused if that were my eventual legacy.
This survey was designed primarily for fun, just so that I could talk and laugh with people, and catch up with friends scattered across the corners of the country and globe. I actually learned that people harbor strong opinions regarding pretty stupid things such as the use of toilet seat covers, or even the ethics of hovering. And that many of these things are not grounded in any sort of reason or biology, but rather in arbitrary preconceptions that linger behind closed doors. Even when examined, some habits of toilet seat coverage are much easier to change (I am now a reformed backwards-U-denier) than others (but I’m still religiously deploying seat covers), and more studies need to be conducted to determine whether anything can be done to escape the shackles of our more deeply-ingrained toilet-based biases. Finally—and this is perhaps the most sanctimonious point—I learned that I can spend hours upon hours of my life writing up an utterly pointless survey merely for the sake of my own enjoyment… well, and that of my 5 anonymous “focus group participants.”
I’d like to thank my wife for her indefatigable support, for tolerating my endless bullshit with unyielding grace, and for teaching me over and over again how to laugh. I’d like to thank Focus Group Participants #1-5 for their invaluable feedback and for tirelessly generating upwards of 600 WhatsApp messages per day. As always, strong work, guys. I’d like to thank a bunch of other people, too, but for whatever reason nobody wants to actually attach their name to this magnum opus of scientific writing (something about jobs and maintaining credibility), so suffice it to say I couldn’t have done it without the village. You know who you are. Love you all, and stay woke.
NEXT SECTION: See Supplemental Discussion (definitely worth your time if you’ve frickin’ made it this far)